I was punch pleased to notice the burst of enthusiasm, eagerness, and commitment shown by Indian Oil and some of its dealers to make the fatigued long-haul truck drivers’ lives less miserable.
Pumping in huge dollops of money (90%) to build paved truck parking at its Swagat retail outlets on highways.
On a road trip from Gurugram to Neemrana on the day South Africa ‘mincemeat’ed Australia in the World Cup ODI at Lucknow (12 October 2023) with European giant Bosch team from Bengaluru, we ‘darshaned’ five Swagat retail outlets.
Paved truck parking area with interlinked tiling. Driver restrooms. Provisioning for self-cooking. Neat and clean toilets. Yes, it’s a work in progress.
Of course, such facilities at highway fuel stations would lead to improved “truckfalls” and fuel sales, pump owners concede. Yet, there is much skepticism that drivers would prefer free parking.
This air of doubt has to be turned around. It’s a business; stakeholders have to bear some part of the burden to make it sustainable. IOC investment is taxpayers’ money and, therefore, directly or indirectly, whether we own trucks or not, the 1.4 billion populace has a stake in the spirit of nation-building.
Pump owners have invested in the form of land. Let’s not forget that the land price on the lips of highways is huge.
Now comes the role of fleet-owners. They must take full responsibility for the safety of cargo, vehicles, and drivers by ensuring their fleet is parked only in secured truck parking and not on the roadside, leading to higher accidents. Like they embraced the fleet card concept, it’s time for them to tie up with oil marketing companies with secured truck parking amenities and create a swipeable “Parking Card.”
Drivers’ reluctance to pay for such secured truck parking is baffling. They do cough up parking fees for night halts at spacious highway dhabas. The pump owners’ fear that ‘charged” truck parking would drive them away from even buying fuel is farfetched. Delusional. Yes, they need to win over them.
Pump owners complain about dwindling margins. Therefore, they grudgingly decide to go along with OMCs, hoping to increase truckfalls into their Swagat retail outlets.
For anything to succeed, it has to be sustainable. Truck parking is not a charity but a value-added service.
The end-users and 3PLs should favorably consider giving due weightage to truck parking en route if they are serious about safe and timely shipment delivery.
Better, all of them listen. A well-rested long-haul truck driver is the safest bet to save billions of GDP plus invaluable human and animal lives.
Nitin Gadkari kush hoga!
He deserves total support in battling to reduce road accidents and fatalities.
Are we ready, folks?